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A few weeks ago a new Vertigo title came out, Clean Room by Gail Simone. The cover looked cool, Vertigo has a generally good track record, and the synopsis sounded interesting. Kind of Stephen King-ish? Actually, it sounded a lot like that movie In the Mouth of Madness, with the one guy who was a scientist in both Jurassic Park and Event Horizon (they need to stop giving him degrees).
Basically a self-help author’s book is killing people. Well the book itself isn’t, people are reading it and then killing themselves. Also, there’s a whole deal about seeing ghosts/demons/Eldritch horrors. And some weird sex stuff (one of the grossest descriptions of oral sex ever, thanks Gail!).
So after reading it, I’ve got to say, it’s always tough to pass judgment on a series after only one issue, but Clean Room is one to keep an eye on. Why? Because it was a pretty decent read, what more do you need? Well fine, let me elaborate.
The art is well done. Not the best DC or Vertigo is putting out, mind you, but more than serviceable for our story. The lines are clean and the faces expressive. The creatures look cool and are pretty unique. The scenes effectively switches between bright, dark and creepy. The panel layouts are effective, the flow is nice.
Simone’s story is pretty basic, at least in this issue. A journalist with a dark past investigates an enigmatic rich person who is embroiled in some supernatural goings on. It’s a set up of which we’ve seen similar (the aforementioned movie) before. Those journalists have a habit of biting off more than they can chew.
The writing itself is really where the story pops. You get a good feel for the main character, who thankfully isn’t as brooding as most writers would have her. She’s proactive, unafraid and she effectively drives the story forward. In a kind of thriller/horror story, it really helps.
Now, in fairness, I won’t put all my horses behind… this… cart? I won’t put all my chickens in one basket? Put all my stock in this title’s particular ETF? I don’t know what the metaphor is, but basically I’m not saying this comic is going to knock it out of the park just yet. It’s only been a single issue.
Mostly it’s the set up that gives me pause. So far it reads like a riff off of a Lovecraft story and it’s not like there are a whole bunch of twists in it. That the lead is female is probably the biggest thing, and while that sets it apart, the gap is not huge. I feel as though I can guess a few the twists coming down the road, and unless I’m wrong, that’s not a good thing.
Still, a lot of this book is pretty solid. It’s just the one issue, so if this has piqued your interest at all I suggest you check it out. It definitely has the potential for a classic and, don’t forget, it’s a Vertigo title. They don’t usually take a chance on weak material. Usually.